Grace Zabriskie

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Grace Zabriskie
Grace Caplinger[1]

(1941-05-17) May 17, 1941 (age 81)[2]
Years active1978–present

Grace Zabriskie (née Caplinger; born May 17, 1941) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Sarah Palmer in Twin Peaks (1990–1991; 2017) and its film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Lois Henrickson in Big Love, as well as in cult films such as two of David Lynch's films: Juana Durango in Wild at Heart (1990) and Visitor #1 in Inland Empire (2006). Other film roles include Nickel Mountain (1984), Child's Play 2 (1990), and The Grudge (2004). She also is known for her recurring roles in Seinfeld and Charmed.

Early life[edit]

Zabriskie was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Marion Grace (née Zabriskie), of Wyckoff, New Jersey, and Roger Thomas "Tom" Caplinger.[3] Her mother had distant Polish and Dutch ancestry,[4] and was a relative of James Zabriskie, a 19th-century railroad industrialist and early pioneer of California.[5] Zabriskie has said that her family was visited by Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal and Truman Capote during her childhood.[6] Her father owned the famous French quarter gay bar Cafe Lafitte in Exile.[1]

In the early 1960s, Zabriskie was among a circle of Kerry Thornley's New Orleans friends. At one point, Thornley began work on a novel about her titled Can Grace Come Out and Play?[1] Thornley later claimed to have had an "eight-year-long, off-again-on-again, affair/friendship/rivalry/ego-game/karmic unraveling" with her, but Zabriskie described it as "four and a half minutes in bed" after a discussion on the exclusion of sex from their friendship—shared with Zabriskie's then-husband Rob—as being "irrational".[7]

Her sister, Lane Caplinger, worked as a typist in New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's office. Caplinger is reputed to have covertly produced all five copies of the first edition of the Principia Discordia in 1965.[8]


After making her major film debut in Norma Rae, Zabriskie went on to appear in dozens of other works, including the 1981 Roger Corman horror film Galaxy of Terror and the 1981 miniseries adaptation of John Steinbeck's East of Eden. She played the nanny in The Private Eyes, Debra Winger's mother in An Officer and a Gentleman, Heather Langenkamp's mother in Nickel Mountain, and Paul Le Mat's mother in The Burning Bed (starring Farrah Fawcett). She had a small but crucial part in the fifth season finale of Knots Landing.

She appeared in 1989's Drugstore Cowboy and as the ill-fated orphanage owner Grace Poole in Child's Play 2. Other movies include the 1991 film adaptation Fried Green Tomatoes and Philip Ridley's 1995 film The Passion of Darkly Noon.

Zabriskie is perhaps most familiar for her television work. After a recurring role on the soap opera Santa Barbara, she appeared on David Lynch's Twin Peaks and its spin-off film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as Sarah Palmer, the eerily psychic mother of the doomed Laura Palmer.

Zabriskie also appeared in Lynch's Wild at Heart—notably as the twin sister of a character played by Isabella Rossellini, an actress eleven years her junior. David Lynch later cast her as a sinister Polish neighbor in Inland Empire in 2006.

Zabriskie may best be remembered as Mrs. Ross, a recurring character on the sitcom Seinfeld. She played the mother of another doomed daughter, Susan RossGeorge Costanza's fiancée—who died after licking cheap envelope adhesive when mailing out her wedding invitations. Zabriskie's character's husband on the series, who also appeared in a recurring role, was played by her former Twin Peaks co-star, Warren Frost.

She also made a brief but memorable appearance in the episode "S'ain't Valentine's" on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens, as the emotionally disturbed and alcoholic mother of Spence Olchin (played by Patton Oswalt). While the character Veronica Olchin would reappear throughout the series, Zabriskie would not portray her again, having been replaced by Anne Meara. She also starred as Lois Henrickson in Big Love, an HBO drama series that seriously explored the issue of polygamy,[9] and appeared twice in Aaron Spelling's series Charmed as "The Crone".

She has worked in radio, collaborating with radio dramatist/monologist Joe Frank several times. In one episode of Frank's show, "Home (Original)", she talks at length about her childhood in New Orleans, with a focus on her father.

Zabriskie appeared in the 2004 American remake of The Grudge, in which she played a senile elderly woman sensitive to the paranormal occurrences in her home.

In 2020, she starred in the music video for Grouplove's "Youth".[10] directed by Christopher Blauvelt.

Personal life[edit]

In her early 20s, Zabriskie and her then-husband Rob "had an intense friendship, which graduated, or from another point of view disintegrated into more of a friendship between" Zabriskie and Kerry Thornley; this friendship was "centered around an intense shared love for and fascination with the philosophy of Ayn Rand".[11]

Zabriskie is the mother of two daughters: Helen, who became an actress, and Marion Lane, a painter. In 1993, Helen died of Hodgkin's disease.[12] Marion died in 2019, aged 56, of cancer.[13]


Year Title Role Notes
1978 They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way Lem's Wife
1979 Norma Rae Linette Odum
1980 The Private Eyes Nanny
1981 Galaxy of Terror Captain Trantor
1982 An Officer and a Gentleman Esther Pokrifki
1984 Nickel Mountain Ellie Wells
1984 Body Rock Chilly's Mother
1986 The Big Easy Mama
1987 Rampage Naomi Reece
1987 Leonard Part 6 Jefferson
1988 The Boost Sheryl
1989 Drugstore Cowboy Bob's Mother
1990 Megaville Mrs. Jessica Palinov
1990 Wild at Heart Juana Durango
1990 Child's Play 2 Grace Poole
1991 Ambition Mrs. Wendy Merrick
1991 Servants of Twilight Grace Spivey
1991 My Own Private Idaho Alena
1991 Fried Green Tomatoes Eva Bates
1992 The Waterdance Pat
1992 FernGully: The Last Rainforest Narrator/Magi Lune (voice)
1992 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me Sarah Palmer
1992 Chain of Desire Linda Bailey
1993 Stone Soup Olympia
1993 Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Mrs. Maria Hankshaw
1994 The Last Laugh Louise Short film
1994 The Crew Gloria Pierce
1994 Drop Zone Winona
1995 Desert Winds Jackie's Mother
1995 The Passion of Darkly Noon Roxy
1996 A Family Thing Ruby
1996 Bastard Out of Carolina Granny
1997 Seed Mother's Voice Short film
1997 Psycho Sushi Great Aunt
1997 George B. The Mother
1997 Dead Men Can't Dance Brig. Gen. Burke
1997 Annie's Garden Mrs. Felicity Barnes
1997 Sparkler Sherri
1998 Armageddon Dottie
1998 Dante's View Geraldine
1999 Trash Mrs. Wendy DeMarie
1999 A Texas Funeral Murtis
1999 Me and Will Edith
2000 Home the Horror Story Grace Parkinson
2000 A Fate Foretold Olga Short film
2000 Puppy Love Jeanette Foley Short film
2000 Gone in 60 Seconds Helen Raines
2001 They Crawl Mrs. Gage
2002 R.S.V.P. Mary Franklin
2002 No Good Deed Mrs. Karen Quarre
2003 The Wind Effect Allison Short film
2004 The Last Letter Mrs. Stella Allison
2004 Chrystal Gladys
2004 The Grudge Emma
2004 Sabine and the Two-Headed Baby Sabine Short film
2006 Inland Empire Visitor #1
2007 Careless Adrienne
2007 License to Wed Grandma Jones
2007 Alternate Endings Mom Short film
2008 The Brothel Madam
2009 Bob Funk Mrs. June Funk
2009 My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? Mrs. Joan McCullum
2013 Wrong Cops Donna
2013 Trancers: City of Lost Angels The Warden Short film
2014 Blind Malice Nanna
2014 The Judge Mrs. Anita Blackwell
2014 The Makings of You Margaret a.k.a. Never My Love
2015 Only Child Delores
2015 Christmas at Rosemont Josephine
2019 Polaroid Lena Sable
2021 Cryptozoo Joan (voice)
Year Title Role Notes
1978 The Million Dollar Dixie Deliverance Widow Cummins TV movie
1979 Concrete Cowboys Mrs. Kate Barnaby Episode: "Concrete Cowboys"
1979 Freedom Road Ruth Lait TV movie
1980 CBS Afternoon Playhouse Episode: "Lost in Death Valley"
1980 Blinded by the Light Emily TV movie
1981 East of Eden Mrs. Catherine Ames TV miniseries
1981 Hart to Hart Ethyl Episode: "A Couple of Harts"
1982 The Executioner's Song Kathryne Baker TV movie
1983 Tales of the Gold Monkey Dr. Clouet Episode: "Last Chance Louie"
1983 M.A.D.D.: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers Silvie Alice Kohler TV movie
1983 Cagney & Lacey Adele Episode: "Affirmative Action"
1984 My Mother's Secret Life Maggie Ryan TV movie
1984 Knots Landing Chambermaid Episode: "Negotiations"
1984 The Burning Bed Flossie Hughes TV movie
1984 Paper Dolls Cathy Episode: "1.8"
1985 ABC Afterschool Special Mrs. Linton Episode: "One Too Many"
1985 Santa Barbara Theda Bassett 17 episodes
1985 North Beach and Rawhide Hearings Officer TV movie
1985 Shadow Chasers Mary Komatar Episode: "Shadow Chasers: Part 1"
1986 Hill Street Blues Terry Sylvestri Episode: "Das Blues"
Episode: "Scales of Justice"
1986 Cagney & Lacey Eva Sikorski Episode: "Model Citizens"
1987 Falcon Crest Mabel Burton Episode: "When the Bough Breaks"
Episode: "The Cradle Will Fall"
1987 Mistress Deanie TV movie
1988 The Bronx Zoo Mrs. Barris Episode: "Ties That Bind"
1988 My Father, My Son Mouza TV movie
1988 Shooter Sister Marie TV movie
1988 Empty Nest Eva Barrett Episode: "Pilot"
1989 The Ryan White Story Gloria White TV movie
1989 Unsub Alma Episode: "White Bone Demon"
1989 A Deadly Silence Psychologist TV movie
1989 Moonlighting Rita Episode: "In 'N Outlaws"; uncredited
1990 Tales from the Crypt Mrs. Colbert Episode: "The Secret"
1990 Hometown Boy Makes Good Helen Geary TV movie
1990–1991 Twin Peaks Sarah Palmer 13 episodes
1991 Prison Stories: Women on the Inside Genevieve TV movie
1991 Blood Ties The Woman TV movie
1991 Intimate Stranger Dana P. Ashley TV movie
1992 Freshman Dorm Episode: "Pilot"
1992 A House of Secrets and Lies Ruby TV movie
Seinfeld Mrs. Ross 5 episodes
1993 Bonds of Love Emma TV movie
1993 Miracle Child Adeleine Newberry TV movie
1993 Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story Ethel TV movie
1993 Banner Times Momma TV movie
1993 Double Deception Dr. Kester TV movie
1993 Sirens Female Store Owner Episode: "Keeping the Peace"
1993 Angel Falls Cuema Episode: "Fall from Grace"
1994 Lifestories: Families in Crisis Sandy Henry Episode: "A Body to Die For: The Aaron Henry Story"
1995 Crazy for a Kiss Pearl Kinross TV movie
1995 Children of the Dust Rose TV movie
1995 Under Suspicion Lily Cassins Episode: "Hostage Standoff"
Episode: "Wrongful Shooting"
1995 Empty Nest Scarlett Episode: "Life Goes On: Part 1"
Episode: "Life Goes On: Part 2"
1995 Fallen Angels Virna Episode: "The Black Bargain"
1995 NYPD Blue Wanda Padzik Episode: "The Bookie and the Kooky Cookie"
1996 A Promise to Carolyn Francie Harper TV movie
1996 Second Noah Mrs. Cheval Episode: "Stormy Weather"
1996 Murder at My Door Grandma TV movie
1996 The Burning Zone Retired CIA Agent Episode: "Touch of the Dead"
1997 NYPD Blue Millie Banks Episode: "A Remington Original"
1997 High Incident Mattie Episode: "Remote Control"
1997 Over the Top Dolly Episode: "The Southern Story"
1997 The Devil's Child Rose DeMarco TV movie
1998 Dharma & Greg Naomi Episode: "It Takes a Village"
1998 Houdini Mrs. Weiss TV movie
1998 Profiler Mrs. Boudreaux Episode: "The Sum of Her Parts"
1999 The King of Queens Veronica Episode: "S'ain't Valentine's"
2000 Jesse Grandma Rose Episode: "Jesse Gives Birth"
2000 The West Wing Isobel Episode: "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part II"
2002 The Guardian Judith Episode: "The Dead"
2002 The Glow Sylvia Goodstein TV movie
2002–2003 John Doe Yellow Teeth 6 episodes
2003 Charmed The Crone Episode: "Baby's First Demon"
Episode: "Sense and Sense Ability"
2005 Medium Connie Buckley Episode: "The Other Side of the Tracks"
2006–2011 Big Love Lois Henrickson 52 episodes
2013 The Killing Mama Dips 3 episodes
2015 Ray Donovan Miss Monassian 6 episodes
2016 Outcast Mildred 4 episodes
2017 Santa Clarita Diet Mrs. Baković 2 episodes
2017 Twin Peaks Sarah Palmer 6 episodes
2018 The Alienist John's Grandmother 4 episodes
2018 Ballers Enid 2 episodes
2019 Hot Streets Senkah (voice) Episode: "Super Agent 2"
2022 Mike Camille D'Amato
Video games
Year Title Role Notes
2022 The Quarry Eliza Vorez Voice, motion capture and likeness

|- |1994 |Voyeur |Margaret Hawke |Actress (FMV) |}


  1. ^ a b c Gorightly, Adam (2003). The Prankster and the Conspiracy. New York: Paraview Press. p. 265. ISBN 1-931044-66-X.
  2. ^ "Zabriskie, Grace 1941–". Cengage.
  3. ^ "New Orleans native Grace Zabriskie concludes a long goodbye to 'Big Love's' Lois". Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  4. ^ "Historic Reflections from the Polish American Cultural Center Museum in Philadelphia, PA" (PDF). Polish American News. April–May 2012. p. 10.
  5. ^ Wanda Tomczykowska. The Silent Heroes: Polish Contributions to California. Polish Arts and Culture Foundation, 1994
  6. ^ "HBO: Big Love—Interviews—Grace Zabriskie". Archived from the original on April 20, 2007. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
  7. ^ Gorightly, Adam (October 3, 2014). "Kerry Thornley's Paranoid Flash". Historia Discordia. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  8. ^ Gorightly, Adam (2014). Historia Discordia The Origins of the Discordian Society. New York: RVP Press. p. 221. ISBN 978-1-61861-321-9.
  9. ^ Sellers, John. "The Zabriskie Principle: Why the Big Love Finale Wasn't Really a Shocker", The Wrap, March 21, 2011.
  10. ^ "Grouplove Taps a 'Twin Peaks' Icon for New 'Youth' Video". March 4, 2020.
  11. ^ "Kerry Thornley's Paranoid Flash—Historia Discordia".
  12. ^ "Mother, daughter unite to transform paintings to boxes". Daily Bruin. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  13. ^ "LAUNCH LA announces the death of Marion Lane at the age of 56".

External links[edit]